"High quality" XLR cables

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by AdamSH89, Feb 3, 2015.

  1. AdamSH89

    AdamSH89 Member

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    My band just got new powered mains for our sound system. So instead of using the speaker cables we had for our passive speakers, we are switching to XLRs. A few of the guys stated they want "high quality" XLR cables for them. As a guitar player, I've encountered the age old patch cable hype, and the science over and over again just tells me don't buy the hype: it's all about capacitance. However, with XLRs we are talking about a balanced signal. My gut reaction is still to say "bull crap" and reject getting the new cables in hopes that they will somehow retain fidelity better than the XLR cables we already have, but I don't know the science here. Is it possible for certain XLR cables to retain signal quality better than others, and if so how does one determine that?
     
  2. Crowder

    Crowder Dang Twangler Silver Supporting Member

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    Audiopile.net offers a great price/value compromise. Cable may be cable, but connectors are certainly not all the same.

    Audiopile cables also have the length printed on the stress relief jackets which is really handy.
     
  3. MLG Audio

    MLG Audio Member

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    Sure, there may be a difference in sound quality between the budget cables and the $200 cables. But I guarantee neither you nor your audience will be able to hear it at all. When you pay for quality cables, you pay for quality of the connectors, rubber jacketing, and possibly the shielding. you can get cables that will work perfectly for years for not that much money. If you buy the "musicians gear" stuff, you will get crackling, drop outs, and noise mostly from the ****** connectors. Gotta find that middle ground of quality and price.

    Some people claim that the lifetime warranties are worth the extra bucks, but if you're out on a gig and need another cable, the warranty does nothing for you. What I've done is buy bulk decent XLR cable, and bulk decent inexpensive connectors. For about 200 bucks I've made enough cables to run my entire 16x8 sound system. I would probably spend a few extra bucks for the real Neutrik connectors next time, but I haven't had any failures in two years of using all GLS audio cables and connectors every weekend.

    Hope this helps!
     
  4. dank

    dank Consummate Beatles Fan Supporting Member

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    Just make sure you have high quality connectors, i.e., Neutrik. I use Pro Co XLR cables from Sweetwater for my entire PA system. They don't break the bank, and they last.
     
  5. Crowder

    Crowder Dang Twangler Silver Supporting Member

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    Think about this too...if you have a bad mic cable on one channel, it only impacts that channel. A bad/failing cable going to one of your mains is a much bigger issue.
     
  6. vicdeluca71

    vicdeluca71 Member

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    Listen to your gut.
     
  7. Rex Anderson

    Rex Anderson Member

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    redco.com

    Mogami 2549 cable http://www.redco.com/Mogami-W2549.html

    $0.80 per foot

    Highly regarded by many audio professionals. Low capacitance is what you want with any audio cable, balanced or unbalanced. Mogami 2549 is very low capacitance and very high quality cable. No "audiophile" snake oil.
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2015
  8. MONSTER ZERO

    MONSTER ZERO Member

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    I can't help with the science of it per se but I can tell you this. I bought out a small local shop of their XLR's that went out of business a couple years ago and ended up with an huge assortment of new XLR cables of various lengths and the ones that are labeled CBI are the noisiest things I've ever heard. The beefier ones (fatter cable, better looking connector) I bought which aren't labeled at all are quiet as a mouse. By noisy I mean just slightly tap on on the cable itself when being used as a mic cable and you can hear it loudly through the PA. Not true with the beefier no name cables.
     
  9. GCDEF

    GCDEF Supporting Member

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    This is the right answer. You want sturdy cable with quality connectors so that they work every time you plug them in. You're not likely to hear a difference until they fail.

    http://audiopile.net/products/Mic_Instr_Cables/Mic_Cables_2.shtml
     
  10. buddaman71

    buddaman71 Student of Life Silver Supporting Member

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    modern heavy duty cables, like ProCo, are extremely robust and affordable. just buy some. it's not that complicated.
    hell, i even bought a couple 5-packs of 25' no name cables on amazon recently, and they are absolutely as good as any cables i've ever used.


    :)
     
  11. teleking36

    teleking36 Supporting Member

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    If you have decent soldering skills, go to redco.com and buy yourself some bulk cable. Either Mogami or Canare, and get some Neutrik XLR connectors and make your own.

    I've made dozens of new cables for my studio, including monitor cables, for pennies on the dollar compared to what I would've paid for pre-made cables.
     
  12. Pietro

    Pietro 2-Voice Guitar Junkie and All-Around Awesome Guy

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    I can solder stuff myself, but my cables are still less reliable than a good pre-made Canare from someone who does that all day and all night.

    I think there have been tests that show that low impedance cables have way less difference in sound quality than guitar cables.

    I'd buy based on known durability.
     
  13. RustyAxe

    RustyAxe Member

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    Just get quality cables ... Mogami or Belden or Canare cable with Neutrik connectors. No need to pay for a ridiculously priced "premium" cable that does nothing more than any well made cable. You'll pay $.80 to $1.00 per foot, tops (shorter runs cost more because the cost of the connectors remains the same regardless of how much cable is between them). Anyone asking for any more is selling snake oil to the easily convinced.
     
  14. bigtone23

    bigtone23 Member

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    Yes, high quality connectors are key. The cable is too, as the higher quality braided shield cables (usually with larger gauge internal wire) will be more quiet and take the increased abuse that a live show provides.

    The sound differences between these robust cables and the $9.99 cheap-o twisted shield 20' XLR (with the Philips head screw holding the connector together-yuck!) is not as disparate as the build quality, especially at line levels.
    That said, ALWAYS have at least one spare cable for your mains and another for your mics--it can save a gig.
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2015
  15. Teal_66

    Teal_66 Member

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    I use Mogami cables only for XLR because they are guaranteed for life. If anything happens to them, they will send new ones for free. They are really great cables.

    Yes, they are expensive, but they are excellent and have the best warranty.
     
  16. meterman

    meterman Member

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    I spent a fortune on Mogami cables for my home studio until I realized I could get the same thing from Redco or Zombie for much less. Choose your cable type and length, your connectors, and they build them for you for about half what you pay for the Mogami pre-assembled cables.

    Ex: 20 Foot Mogami Gold mic cable from GC is $69.95, same cable (2549 cable w/ Switchcraft connectors) from Redco is only $36.36.

    FWIW...
     
  17. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Member

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    I did the same thing when I went to all powered speakers. I bought 30' Monster cables. They weren't cheap, but I'll only have to buy them once.
     
  18. 78deluxe

    78deluxe Member

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    For guitar cables and the signal there, the science might say it is only Capacitance. But if you have a good guitar amp and halfway decent ears, that isnt' the only factor. If you can't hear the difference between an EA Lyric HG and a Guitar Center Special cable cut to the same total cap though a 58 Les Paul Jr with P90s and a Trainwreck Rocket, I either envy you for not getting bogged down in the details or feel sorry for you that ones hearing isn't very good. Of course there is a lot of gear out there that will not make such differences so obvious.

    However with balanced cables with "active" signal path that is a different situation and will matter much less.

    Check out ebay, there are people that offer handbuilt cable with quality components (connector and cable) for a lot less than many in the market. (~$20 for cable made out of the same components as $50 cable in a store or major dealer).
     
  19. kennybro

    kennybro Member

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    Good thing you didn't do that. Don't use standard speaker cables for powered speakers. You're pushing line level through it, not speaker level, and you need a shield.


    Damaged cables will dull the signal or introduce noise, but anyone who's been working professionally with XLR cables for 20 or 30 years will tell you to start with a high quality cable (Belden 8451 or 9451) and add quality plugs (Neutrik or Switchcraft) for the best sounding, most durable cable. Durability is key.
    As said above, ProCo makes great stuff at reasonable cost.
     

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